City’s Under-18s Lead Coach Ben Wilkinson says Saturday’s 4-0 win over Derby County was a step in the right direction for his young squad.

Many of the players that won last year’s Under-18 Premier League title have moved up to Brian Barry-Murphy’s Elite Development Squad for 2022/23, while a number of injuries have restricted Wilkinson’s options so far this season.

After a 2-2 draw at Newcastle on the opening weekend, City registered their first win of the campaign at the CFA on Saturday. That made it 24 victories in our last 25 home matches in the Under-18 Premier League.

The coach expects his team to grow as the season progresses and feels that the first win of the new campaign will invigorate his players.

“They should all take confidence from it,” he said.

City Under-18s 2022/23 fixtures

“It’s a young group, and they’ll need time to grow and understand what we want from them, so it should give them a lot of confidence.

“We’ve got a great record at home over the last few years and when we get on this pitch we expect to dominate the opposition and to win games and keep clean sheets so it’s a positive step in the right direction.”

City let a two goal lead slip against Newcastle last week, costing us the three points.

Wilkinson was delighted not to see his team make the same mistake twice, instead ruthlessly adding to their goal tally with three second half strikes.

He said: “I thought last week was a good performance, we just made a couple of individual errors which really cost us heavily.

“The pleasing thing about today was we corrected the things we were making mistakes on. We got a little bit loose in the last five minutes, probably because of the amount of substitutions we made.

“I thought the reaction from the first half in the second half to put the game to bed was pleasing and something we need to repeat as the season goes on.”

Jadel Katongo, Joel Ndala, Nico O’Reilly and Matthew Whittingham were heavily involved in the victory.

They are some of just a handful of players from last year’s success who have remained part of the Under-18 squad and Wilkinson was pleased to see the experienced quartet take centre stage.

He said: “It’s really important that they dominate and influence games and one, do it for themselves and two, be an example for the rest of the players.

“The players from last year know what’s expected and know the standards and it’s a case of them wanting to hit the ground running and keep working to improve themselves and also the team.”

City are next in action on Saturday 3 September, when we host Blackburn Rovers in the Under-18 Premier League Cup.